God bless you, and welcome. My name is Bishop Vincent Mathews, and I’m excited that you have joined this course on Leadership Basics. We’re going to look at forty lessons from the kings of Judah.
First of all, we need to understand that the world we live in now has a leadership vacuum. From the White House to your house and everywhere in between, we’re all leaders, whether you’re the head of a committee in your church or whether you are a pastor or you’re a homemaker. You are a leader, and you have a sphere of influence, and someone is following you. Leadership is a gift from God, and we want to leverage that so that we can be good stewards of what God has given us.
I am excited about my places where I’m a leader! First of all, I love Jesus, so I lead as I follow Him. I’m a husband. My wife, Sharon, and I have eleven children that God has blessed us with, so I’m a leader in my home. I’m a pastor. Our family lived in South Africa for twelve years; and as I lived there, I pastored a church and led a school. At every level of leadership that God has given me, I’ve learned and continue to learn lessons.
So let’s look at these kings of Judah and see what we can learn. There will be some surprises. There will be some things that will excite us. But most of all, I believe that the Word of God is going to instruct us so that we can become stronger leaders.
I want to jump into these lessons today. We’re going to start before the kingdom was split, and we’ll see that in a moment. Maybe some of these kings you’ve never heard of. But their stories and the context of what they faced will apply to what we face today.
First we want to look at the first kingdom, Judah. Our first lesson will come from the first king of Israel. His name was Saul. Everyone knows Saul. As a matter of fact, Israel was a theocratic society. They followed God. God was their King initially, but once they got into the land of promise and started seeing others, they wanted to be like everyone else. As a matter of fact, that’s a lesson in itself. We should be unique and different, but they wanted to be like everyone else. They not only asked, they begged God, and then they demanded from God for a king. Saul was a man who the Bible says was “head and shoulders above everyone.” He was tall, dark, and handsome; looked good, smelled good, and talked good!
1. God puts leaders in place for a reason.
Lesson #1: God puts leaders in place for a reason. I believe the reason God put Saul in place was to demonstrate to the nation Israel that their dependence should be strictly upon God, because the problem with Saul was that he ruled from the flesh. Him being the tallest guy, the most handsome, maybe the most eligible bachelor at the time, he ruled from the flesh. It was all about him. It was all about how he could rule. He ruled from the flesh, and he was a crowd pleaser. How do we know this? Because when God gave him directives through the prophet Samuel, he said, “Well, you know, I would’ve done what you told me to do, but I was worried about what the people would think. I was worried about what people would say, and so I made a few variations on what you would have me to do.”
God’s leader must not be a crowd pleaser or follow popular opinion, but must do the things of God. As a matter of fact, 1 Chronicles 10, verse 13 sums up Saul’s reign. It says, “So Saul died for his unfaithfulness which he had committed against the LORD, because he did not keep the word of the LORD, and because he consulted a medium for guidance. But he did not inquire of the LORD; therefore, He killed him, and turned the kingdom over to David the son of Jesse” (NKJV).
Two things we see here: First of all, he did not keep the words of the Lord. As a leader, we must follow the things that God has called for us to do. And then he consulted mediums. He went to witchcraft, went to shortcuts, and went to this witch in Endor to find out what he should do, which caused his leadership to be a problem. So the first thing: God puts leaders in place for a reason. Let the reason that you’re leading be one that is a lesson that God can use His people well.
2. You can lead but be an irrelevant leader.
Our second lesson that we want to look at today is that one can lead but be irrelevant. You can be a leader, but be irrelevant. That’s lesson #2: You can lead but be an irrelevant leader. John Maxwell in his book Five Levels of Leadership starts off with, “The first level is a positional leader.” That’s a person who becomes a leader, but they’re just based on their position. You’d better follow me because I’m the boss. Do what I say because I’m the father, or I’m the mother. Just do what I say because I’m this . . . They have no relationship. They rule based on their rights to be in charge. That’s a bad place to be, because you can be the leader but become an irrelevant leader.
This is what Ishbosheth—have you ever heard of Ishbosheth? Have you ever met anyone named Ishbosheth? You’ve met a Saul, you’ve met a David, you’ve met a Solomon. You’ve never met an Ishbosheth. Probably why is because most people don’t remember this king. He became a king, but he was irrelevant. He was the son of Saul. After Saul passed away, after Saul died, God removed him to put David in place. Ishbosheth becomes king, but he was propped up by Abner, who was the chief of the army at the time. Abner was the chief of the army, and it was really Abner that was ruling things. Ishbosheth had no zeal for God, had no zeal for God’s people, had no vision, no insight on what he wanted to do, no insight on following the directives that God had given the nation. But he was there, he was in the position, he was the king. He ate nicely every day; but when Abner died—it says in the Bible, in 2 Samuel 4:1—it says that Abner was killed by Joab who was with David. [Ishbosheth] shook in fear, and his servants killed him and cut his head off and took it to David. Oh, that sounds bad, I know, but the problem was that there’s nothing to be said about what Ishbosheth did. Ishbosheth became king, and he just sat in the position. He enjoyed the perks. He enjoyed the fact that people came and served him; and at a vulnerable point, it was his own subjugates—those who followed him—who pushed him off the scene.
There are some leaders who are irrelevant. They have the position, but they have no purpose. You can be a leader and be irrelevant. Make certain that your opportunity to lead—whether it’s in your home, at your job, in your church, on a committee, on the board, whatever it is—that you lead with passion, with zeal, but most of all with God’s vision, so that you can be relevant. And so that’s our second lesson for today.
3. When you have God’s heart, you can achieve amazing things.
Let’s keep moving. The third lesson is: When we have God’s heart, we can achieve amazing things. Now this moves us to the next king. Saul is off the scene. His son Ishbosheth moves forward. We’ve learned lessons from them. And, by the way, there are so many lessons that we can learn from just Saul. I could have done eight sessions on Saul, or continued on Ishbosheth, but we’re just looking at points that will help us—give us nuggets—so that we can be the leader that God has called us to be: effective in this dark time.
David was the king “after God’s own heart.” David had a sustainability plan. And God made a covenant called the Davidic Covenant with him; and he was a great uniter. He united the people. Obviously, he was anointed king long before he became king. The mantle of leadership was upon you and I long before we attained a position of leadership. This was the challenge that we saw in our previous lesson. David was anointed king, and he walked kingly, or he walked with a leadership mantle, even before he became king. When he was out in the back with his sheep and forgotten by everyone, he led with integrity and virtue. But David was “a man after God’s own heart”; not meaning that he never made a mistake. This does not mean that he never failed, but the fact that he loved God and wanted to please God and wanted his reign, or wanted his opportunity of leadership to be one that inspires people, that points people to God and makes things better, wherever he touches. Wherever you lead, if you have God’s heart, you want to impact lives—I don’t want to be in a room or be in a position and have not touched lives. I want to inspire, that when I leave this earth, when my time is gone, that I will have impacted someone in this life. This is what God’s heart is.
The Great Commission tells us: Go ye therefore into all nations, teaching them, discipling them, letting them know, bringing hope in hopeless times. This is what King David did. Yes, he made mistakes, but he was anointed king when he was in the fields, and he was a very important king of Judah. As a matter of fact, God gave the Davidic Covenant—also called “the sure mercies of David”—to David, letting him know in Isaiah 55:3 that “I’m going to bless you and your generations.” He became the line straight to Jesus! As a matter of fact, this line of kings of Judah demonstrates going straight to the cross, going straight to our hope. And we will see that the enemy will seek to cut off these leaders, these kings, because he recognizes that these leaders are a direct line to the power and hope of Christ to humanity, to the world. We see this through King David. We see in 2 Samuel 7:8–17, God makes his promise, and it includes a few things: “When you die, I will set up your seed and establish them forever.” And so He says, “Mercy shall never depart from you. Like I did with Saul, I will have mercy with you.” And then God also says to him that his line will go to Jesus, and Judah will be the road to the cross. Just as I said that the bottom line is: David, if you serve Me—it was a conditional blessing—if you do what I’ve called for you to do as a leader, I will not only validate you, but I will elevate you to make an impact.
If we have God’s heart, we can be the individuals that are literally bringing hope in dark places where you live, where you stay. We are surrounded by all types of ills, all types of damaging social ills that are happening in our community. There are people who’ve given up hope. There are people who are lost and don’t know which way to go, but your leadership can inspire them when you follow God’s heart.
4. The benefits of leadership can blind you.
Let’s look at our final lesson for today. It feels like our time is going so fast, and so I want to move to our final lesson for today. And this goes to King Solomon. The benefits of leadership can blind us. The benefits of leadership can blind us.
Solomon was a wise king, the wisest ever to live, a rich king. God blessed him. He asked for wisdom. “Lord, I need wisdom. I want to be a wise king. I want to rule Your people, but I need You to show me how to do it.” It was a great request. God honored that request and blessed him, but our wisdom can bring arrogance at times. And as a leader, we cannot allow the benefits of leadership to blind us, to get us in a position where we don’t see exactly what’s before us. In 1 Kings 11:6–10, we see that Solomon did evil in the sight of God. Solomon was a great king. Solomon built the temple. Solomon did great things, but he did not follow the Lord’s command. He had a divided heart. How did he have a divided heart? Well, one problem was that this man loved women, and women loved him! Yes, he built high places to honor his wives who were from all over different countries. Because of his ability to lead, because of his charisma, because of his leadership, he met all kinds of wonderful, beautiful people. He went in and out of all types of doors. He had access because he was successful, because of the validation that God had given him, and this blinded him in many ways.
So, foreign wives took his heart. He had—listen, this is unbelievable—700 wives, 300 concubines, which means, it’s on record in the Bible, this man had a thousand women! Wow! Hashtag #metoo. I don’t know. But he had a thousand women this man had! And this was not in the will of God. Many people say, “Well, we can have many wives because Solomon did, or many kings did.” But God forbade polygamy in Deuteronomy 17:17. It said, “The king should not take many wives,” and that they should not increase their cattle and the horses that they had. In other words, Solomon was based on materialism and the women that he had in his life and did not keep what the Lord commanded. And this blinded him and became his fall.
Well, thank you for joining us today for this session. We looked at four different lessons of leadership and in the next one, this plot, the story gets even greater. So I look forward to seeing you in our next session.